Yule Bingo Has Defeated Caidyn

(Caidyn)

I give up.

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I set my bar too high and there’s no way that I’m going to finish it. I should have gone with one or two Houses at most, not all four for a blackout board.

At least I can admit my defeat.

I’m a mood reader to my core. I can set rough goals about what I want to read, but I usually fail and just read whatever I want, then suddenly remember that I was supposed to read something else.

This is me formally announcing my defeat. And, you know what? It’s okay.

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Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit

(Caidyn)

2/5

I think a fun fact about me is that the first time I ever contemplated being a psychologist (of any type, too) was when I started getting into serial killers. God, I was such a nerd about serial killer facts. I could tell you all about Ted Bundy’s upbringing, John Wayne Gacy’s crimes, Jeffrey Dahmer’s near miss with the police. I wanted to be a criminal psychologist. I wanted to be a profiler.

Now, I see what John Douglas does as a whole bunch of Freudian guesswork on par with dream interpretations and his id/ego/superego.

Aka, a whole bunch of bunk.

I literally just listened to a book by Malcolm Gladwell where he included a piece on Douglas that talked about the issues of profiling. (Link here.) I was impressed with how he covered why profiling is so cool and captures our minds — look at the popularity of shows like Criminal Minds and Mindhunter, the latter based off of Douglas’ life and work — and why it’s just wrong.

Profiling takes highly unstable factors and pretends that their stable. It also makes highly variable statements that contradict one another so that if one’s right, holy shit, this is amazing!!

I took a class where we talked about psychopathy. We spent no time talking about profiling. We just talked about stable factors that have been found and verified through studies. Why? Because it’s not verifiable. Douglas even mentioned that you can’t take profiling and look at it to create an algorithm. Since he was reading it, he sounded almost proud that a human beat a machine. However, if you can’t create some sort of algorithm to help make predictions, doesn’t it mean that the predictions are likely, well, unpredictable and made up?

The most I can say for this book is that if I had read it a few years ago, I would have found it amazing. Now, I know that profiling is impressive but that’s just because it’s someone playing psychic but with a cloak of legitimacy surrounding it.

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures

(Caidyn)

3.5/5

I have to say that this was average. A very average book that had many interesting stories (or adventures as Gladwell called them) but not many that stood out. I can think of four stories, technically three topics, that really stood out to me.

The first was one that dealt with plagiarism. Since I’m a new graduate from college, I definitely know all about that stuff and how important it is not to do that. Gladwell took a story — a woman who saw that a play had plagiarized her life — and reacted as most would: She sued. Yet, Gladwell spent so much time making us sympathize with the woman whose life was plagiarized, then took a chance to completely spin the story in a new way. He tried to make us see how the plagiarizer felt. And he succeeded in it. He grasped the way the woman felt, along with arguments against this being plagiarized. All in all, I thought it was an impressively written article that captured how plagiarism isn’t as clear-cut as we like to think.

Profiling is the next two articles he wrote about that impressed me. I’ll lump them together since they were on the same topic. Obviously, Gladwell has an issue with profiling, but the arguments were very different.

He wrote first about how criminal profiling came to be, examining the issues of it and how it’s nothing more than guesswork. It was interesting since I love Criminal Minds and I used to want to do that work. I wanted to be a profiler. I wanted to do that so desperately. What I liked that Gladwell did was examining profiling as if it was a psychic doing their work, along with pointing out all the ways it was that.

The second article he wrote against profiling was to do with pitbulls. I mean, how interesting. He took a topic that wasn’t too interesting and made it so. He talked about the reasons why banning pitbulls are wrong, along with offering a way to change it to make it better. Rather than caring about stable things (i.e. the traits of the owner) to pick out unsafe dogs, we pay attention to unstable things (i.e. dog breed).

And, lastly, the final story I enjoyed was the titular one. What the Dog Saw. It’s basically a piece on Cesar Millan. What I liked was how it tied his work with dogs into his life and how he had to develop as a person, much how the dogs he worked with had to develop into dogs. I grew up watching his TV show because my mom loved it. We even use some of his techniques in our house. However, I didn’t know about his life and it was interesting to see another side of him.

Those were my four favorite stories boiled down into quick summaries. There were quite a few stories, though, and not all of them I liked. It was an average anthology of Gladwell’s articles that I would recommend only to people who really like his work.

First Lines Friday

It’s the first Friday of 2018 and at least for me (Chantel) it’s been a pretty good reading year so far. I’ve read two books in three days which is something I never thought I would say considering how slow I read, but it happened. Hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come.

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Chantel will be in purple. 

Caidyn will be in blue. 


James Hook was bored. 

The woods had grown rather tame, he thought. TIme was, he and his pirates would have been fending off tigers, wolves, and little boys with swords; they would have been snarled in thorns and clinging vines, beset by swarming fae, ambushed by roving crocodiles. Nowadays, though  Neverland was still overgrown, it was no more threatening than an unkempt lawn. 


This is a book I just recently finished so I don’t think it’ll be a surprise to anyone. It is also the one book out of the two I read recently that I haven’t used for First Line Fridays already so there’s that. 

Anyway, I did enjoy this book quite a bit. I knew I would like it and I did. I’d highly recommend it if you are interested in reading a retelling with a trans main character, and with a sweet romance. 

I’ve decided to pick…

Peter Darling by Austin Chant

Review

Peter Darling cover

This was the first book I read and finished in 2018 and it turned out to be a good start so far. I’ve been wanting to read this for a long time as Austin Chant is a trans author writing about trans characters, which I am so happy about. I can’t wait to read more of his books because I enjoyed the story and knows how to write characters well. 


“I am inclined to think –” said I.

“I should do so,” Sherlock remarked impatiently.

I believe that I am one of the most long-suffering of mortals; but I’ll admit that I was annoyed by the sardonic interruption. “Really, Holmes,” said I severely, “you are a little trying at times.”


I know. My first lines gave it away. It’s something to do with Sherlock Holmes. However, the question is, which one? Is it a canon story or is it a part of the extended universe that’s been created by fans through pastiches, original series, and short stories?

It is…

The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Valley of Fear (Sherlock Holmes, #7)

I’ve been reading this one for some time, mainly because I haven’t had the time or the want to read it. I’m onto the stories I haven’t read yet and (I think) Moriarty comes back in this for whatever reason. Either way, I’m interested in seeing how I like it compared to all the other ones I’ve read since I have read a whole lot of the non-canon stories.

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

Brooklyn

(Caidyn)

4.5/5

I am from a family of immigrants, as are all people in America. But, on my mother’s side, I’m the fourth generation born in America. My great-grandmother was Italian and her mother was brought over from Italy to marry a man that she didn’t know. While she passed some years ago and I don’t know the whole story, I do know that she largely lived in Italian areas, in New York City at that. While there, she married across immigrant lines. She married a Polish man.

So, this story felt very familiar to me.

Eilis was out of work in Ireland despite being very smart and good with numbers. Thanks to her sister and a priest, she goes to America to find her fortune. Along the way, she meets a boy who isn’t Irish and has to make a big choice after something drastic happens at home.

That’s the basic plot, without giving any spoilers away for those who haven’t read it or seen the movie.

I think that one of my favorite parts of this was seeing the prejudice among immigrants against other immigrants. You have the Irish hating the Italians and the Jews, making wild prejudices against them. In a way, it reminded me of when I learned about German Jews being prejudiced against the influx of Eastern European, and therefore Orthodox, Jews that clung to home traditions rather than assimilated as they had.

It also reminded me of my family. A good Italian girl marrying a Polish boy. She broke huge, invisible rules. And, to me, it really hit home about my own heritage. Just how big a deal that was when you could hear from your family and friends how horrible these people were.

Another theme I loved was the culture shock of going home again. One of my friends lives in very liberal Colorado during the school year, but she comes back to small-town, conservative Kansas a few times a year. This time, she told me how much of a culture shock it was, to be in this completely different area. Since I’ve traveled, I know that I’ve felt that. One of my memories is when I was in Japan as a child and my dad had me go through a changing room on my own to get to him. It was so different and frightening for a child.

I thought that Tóibín highlighted that perfectly in Eilis. That confliction she felt about being home and seeing her family, then how strange it was for her. Her change in characterization also struck me well. In America, she learned to live on her own and to take care of herself. In Ireland, she lost that and went back to how she had been before, allowing others to make choices for her.

While I didn’t enjoy the pacing of it — it took so long to get to what the description discussed — that was my only con for the book. Other than that, it was a very good story with characters you could root for.

Peter Darling by Austin Chant

Peter Darling cover

(Chantel)

4/5 – I’ve never been a fan of Peter Pan. I’ve seen the Disney movie maybe once and thought it was meh. That’s the Peter Pan I know and I wasn’t interested. However, a trans Peter Pan? Yeah, I’m interested in that. I also really enjoy short books, usually under 200 pages because despite being a slow reader I can usually finish them in one sitting.

In Austin Chant’s retelling of Peter Pan, Peter was born as Wendy Darling who is struggling to come to terms with his identity in the early 1900s. This is after his return to London from his initial trip to Neverland. Peter is trying to explain to his family that he is now Peter Darling and tries to make them understand, but they don’t. As a result, Peter calls upon Tinkerbell and runs off to Neverland where he can be the man he wants to be.

Peter strikes up his old rivalry with Captain Hook and rounds up the Lost Boys to join him. The Lost Boys are now young men as is Peter, and nothing is the same as when he first came to Neverland. Hook and the Lost Boys have been content with leaving each other alone in the last decade. When Peter shows up looking for a fight, he is the only one enthusiastic about it other than Hook, of course.

I’ll admit, I found it hard to like Peter at times. He was willing to pressure the Lost Boys into joining a fight that they weren’t interested in joining. He came off as hypocritical when he was angry with Hook because one of the Lost Boys was killed after he had three of Hook’s men killed without regret or thought. I often struggle to like characters who aren’t self-aware, if you did something bad at least own up to it, and sometimes I find characters aren’t called out for their hypocrisy.

For example, Jorg in the Broken Empire series knows he’s a horrible person. He never makes you believe otherwise. He’s self-aware and knows he’s evil. With that out of the way, I can focus on the other aspects of his character.

Peter’s hypocrisy is called out by Hook and I was so happy when that happened because I could start focusing on other parts of Peter. Here are two characters who, at one point, fit neatly into their roles as hero and villain but things are far more complicated than that. There’s a lot in this story that is completely different than the version of Peter Pan that I know of, a version Disney would never make, it’s darker, it’s gayer, and the hero of the story Peter is flawed. However, I can’t forget that Peter is running away from his family, desperately trying to forget the fact that they don’t accept him and force him to live as Wendy. No wonder he’s angry and looking for a fight.

I adored Hook, he was charming and funny and just everything I liked in a character. Even though, he was a “villain” he was there for a reason just like Peter was. Neverland, in this retelling, is a place you can run away to as a way of escaping the real world which all too often doesn’t accept those who are different. Specifically, those who are gay or trans. Again, I have no knowledge of the original Peter Pan story, but I really liked Chant’s interpretation of Neverland.

This book hit many boxes on my LGBTQ+ Bingo board such as:

  • Fantasy with an LGBTQ+ MC
  • Read a book from the perspective of a transman (Hook has a few perspective chapters, but it’s mainly Peter.)
  • Read an LGBTQ+ novella
  • Read an LGBTQ+ retelling
  • Read an LGBTQ+ book from an Own Voices author

Ultimately I chose it for the LGBTQ+ retelling because it’s a retelling with a trans Peter Pan who has a romance with Captain Hook. A romance that was completely different than what I expected. That’s a pretty great retelling. I’m really glad I read it and I’m glad it was the book I started out 2018 reading. 

On Writing by Stephen King

Caidyn: 4/5
Chantel: 4/5


This month, I chose the book. I’ve been wanting to get Chantel to read Stephen King for ages. And I know she’ll point out in her review that she has read Stephen King, just never finished a book by him. I just wanted her to read him since he’s such a good author. This one has been sitting on my shelf for years, waiting to be read.

In short, this book involves King giving you a memoir about his life as a burgeoning author, a section called “toolbox” that tells you all about what to do and how he suggests you do it, a postscript about his nearly fatal accident, and finally some examples of editing and a reading list. It’s not a long book, but he covers a lot of ground and is very succinct with it.

Since I’m an annotator when I read, I kept marking things. Didn’t actually write in the book like I usually would have, but I put in a ton of sticky notes to mark sentences or ideas that I really liked. I’m not a huge author. I love writing, but I have no interest in being an author. I’ve tried. I’m not good at it. I can’t just do it and come up with a plot and on and on. But, I enjoy writing when I do it, fiction or nonfiction.

But, this book gave a lot of good tips that you can take with you and apply to something else. I think my favorite one King gave was that the second draft needed to be the first draft minus 10%. That’s something I can live with doing for schoolwork so it’s not insanely long, which is a problem I have with my academic writing.

I would say Stephen King is one of the most well-known authors still working today. His influence not only extends to books but films and tv shows. One of my favorite movies is Stand By Me which is based on his novella, “The Body”. I have read his work (specifically Carrie and The Stand), but never finished the books. Today, on the last day of 2017 (thank god) I finished my first Stephen King book and I am certain I will be reading more of his work.

Caidyn chose this book for December and I was hesitant, nonfiction isn’t my strong suit, but I am really grateful that he chose On Writing. I really enjoyed this book and I would like to get my own copy soon so I can transfer my sticky notes over from the library copy I currently have.

I struggle with writing. By that I mean, I want to be a writer and I enjoy writing but it’s not something I do on a normal basis. Something that bothers me. Now, Stephen King might tell me to not bother (he’s good about laying harsh truths out there), but in all honesty his book inspired me. I don’t know how long the inspiration will last or how effective it will be but that’s beside the point. I feel this was the perfect book to close out 2017 with because in 2018 I’d like to start writing again. Every day even if it’s just one line. The idea is daunting, but I want to be a writer. I have since I was very young and time and time again I’ve held myself back. I’m afraid of writing. Why? Because I don’t know if I’m good at it. I hope that I am, but it’s easy for me to get discouraged.

One of Stephen King’s methods when writing, specifically first drafts, is to “close the door”. By this he means, just write. Don’t let anyone else read it. Don’t bother editing it until it’s complete. Just write everything that comes into your mind surrounding the story you are trying to tell. Everything else will come in the second draft. I found this encouraging because I struggle with first drafts. Is it good? Is that the right word to use? Does this make sense? None of that should matter with the first draft. I think that’s the best advice I took from this book.

Stephen King’s voice in this book is very casual and conversational. I really enjoyed that. It’s part memoir, part writing advice and while I think the second part of the book was stronger than the first, I liked reading how writing influenced him even when he was young. Not to mention, the way he talks about his wife and how much he loves her is #goals for me.

I would recommend this book if you have any desire to be a writer at all. I wish I had read this back in high school or at least a few years ago, but I finally did and I can’t wait to start writing fiction again.

For one, I’m very glad that I was able to give this to Chantel. We met through writing, something that we don’t talk about. We’ve known each other for about two to three years (is it two or three now??) and we bonded through writing. Without writing, we wouldn’t know one another. We literally still write together outside of blogging, something I doubt we’ll share anytime soon. Whereas I have given up with writing, I know Chantel loves writing and wants to be an author. I mean, we’ve talked about ideas together and I know I’d be happy to beta read for her if that’s what she wanted.

But, I totally agree with you. I love his idea on drafts. You write and just get it out of your head onto paper. There are many more drafts yet to come. Get it out, then you can worry about the technical details. One thing I liked was that you can take those suggestions he makes for fiction writing to nonfiction. I could easily take his ideas to heart and write without thinking about it, then work on the overarching themes later.

Should we focus more on the conversational part or his #goals? Because I know we agree there with each other on both parts.

I’m chuckling at how very vague you are being. Not that I want to be specific, just think it’s funny. Anyway, I’m really glad I was able to read this book because I do love writing a lot. I just haven’t been doing it lately and it’s disappointing. I’m not saying this will change overnight, but I’m hoping to do better going forward.

We can focus on the conversational tone first. It was very much like a mentor or a teacher you admire talking about writing, and he was a teacher at one point so that makes sense. He was very good about giving advice but not sounding condescending. He was brutally honest but not mean. I just liked the way he wrote, it was as if we were talking face to face and that really connected me to what he had to say.

While some of our followers might find our personal lives with each other extremely interesting, I do like having some things private (no offense). But I didn’t think we wanted to get further into it. And I’m also tipsy and about to have MORE ALCOHOL so shut up. However, remember that one line a day thing. Just one.

Yes, he felt as if someone you could approach if you had questions. Not someone who’s going to judge or tell you that you’re wrong or stupid or whatever. Someone, you can know they’re going to tell it to you straight, whether you like it or not. I always feel he has that conversational tone, but it really shone through in this book. I enjoyed how he even put (at least in my copy) how he’d let people email him and while he might not read all, he’d read some to give feedback. I liked that.

I mean, being on the internet we should keep some stuff private. Sorry, not sorry. I am tipsy too, this might not be a good combination, but I’m not drinking anymore. Just one line a day is a lot more than I’ve done most days for years, so one line a day isn’t much but it’s far better than I’ve been doing.

I did find some things he said rather harsh, and some of it honestly brought up my own doubts about my writing, but it was more encouraging than not. I like the honesty, but I don’t like the idea that I might be a bad writer and will never be good if that’s the case. His personality also shone through in the book and I found him really likable. It’s rare that I feel such a personal connection in a memoir, but in this one I did. There was something special about the way he wrote. I did see the prompt he offered and then suggested emailing him with what you came up with. That was really cool and I wonder if people still do it.

My pinot grigio is delicious. As with the pizza I’m eating. Oh, and my parents and I shared a bottle of sparkling rose AND my mom and I had a couple fingers of hard liquor. Oh my am I having fun. I think you can do one line a day. Think about it by writing with me, like we do quite often.

Yes, I can see that. Perhaps I appreciated it since I’m very blunt myself and would rather put it honestly than beating around the bush, saying it but not saying it. (And I also think you’re a great writer, Chantel. I do. I’ve written with you for years, watched you grow, and know that your ideas are good. Just perhaps grammar could be edited, yet that’s something minor to figure out later.)

King really did connect. I would love to read some of the submissions that he got since it honestly felt as if I could email him and he’d tell me what he thought. And I’d actually trust his opinion.

I think you are having too much fun there. I think I can do it too. It’s not like I don’t write either. I do, but not what I’d really like to focus on but for now I have something. Even writing reviews for (almost?) every book I’ve read this year is still writing.

I think blunt is fine, I’m just a sensitive snowflake over here. I would rather have honesty as well as opposed to straight up lying and beating around the bush. I knew someone who was constantly told they were a good singer and they weren’t. I know I’m a bad singer but it wasn’t because someone necessarily told me so. I do know the feeling of wanting something really bad though and not knowing if you are good enough. I appreciate the praise though, and I know my grammar is shit. It’s not the thing I think about, I’m just trying to get all my ideas out, you know? Grammar can come later.

I would 100% trust his opinion. He knows what the fuck he’s talking about and yet he was still humble. I think we’ve all heard of Stephen King, but you wouldn’t know how popular he is based on how he talks about himself. It’s great to know that he does it because he loves writing and no other reason.

When don’t we have fun? But the topics we went over were heavy, so that wasn’t so fun. No, you just write different. I think it’d be cool if you used that Hogwarts journal you got to start writing something. Put it to good use so it doesn’t just lay around. JK would approve.

We became friends over my blunt honesty, so I know you can handle it. It’s just hard. I think you are a good writer and polishing stuff is good, but a later problem, just as King put it. Yes, it’s a foundation, but you can’t expect perfection the first draft. Think of all the times you’ve caught typos in published books. And you always catch them while I don’t notice them. I do agree that King gave great advice. Put your ideas out on the page first. Everything can come later. You don’t get it right the first time.

King is popular and well-known, but also extremely good at his craft. And, God, the reverence he comes towards his craft inspires me in general. He never stops approaching it as if he knows it as an old friend, yet a changeable one.

Okay, I lied. I did get more alcohol. If I’m not having fun then I haven’t had enough. Okay, not really but you know…it’s New Years. I was actually going to use that. My mom got me that and some books with writing exercises so she knows how much I want to get back to writing too. She’s read some of my work and I’ve made her cry over and over, but she’s biased. She’s my mom. I don’t want to waste it because it’s a great notebook and it was the present she was most proud of. Also, Stephen King’s love of Harry Potter was delightful.

I appreciate your honesty when you give it and because of it I really value your opinion. I’ve also never really gotten my work out there. When he was a teenager, he was submitting stories to magazines. I never did anything like that. I actually talked myself out of contests in high school and I regret doing that. I’m just afraid of not being good. Especially when it comes to first drafts. I worry so much over first drafts when it’s just about getting ideas out on the page. It’s not going to be perfect, that’s impossible. Omg I’ve found typos in bestselling books, y’all. It is good advice though and I’m going to give it a try. I really want to.

Yes, he talks about writing as an old friend. That’s a great way to put it. He talks about the endless possibilities and about writing whatever you want. That idea is so appealing, especially to me. I’ve got ideas in my head that are so different from each other but I know I can write about all of them if I wanted. It’s always nice to read about someone’s passion and there is no doubt writing is Stephen King’s passion.

Alcohol is a great and terrible thing. Why they trust us with it is amazing to me. 2018 is the writing year, yo. Since I’m sure this will be published after New Year’s Eve, this is going to be 2018 when we post it. And our tipsy ramblings will amuse everyone. Either way, you should get a notebook and use it to write stuff out in. I love it even more since years have passed and now they’re friends on Twitter and she offered to send him Trump’s tweets since he got blocked by him.

I think that’s a common fear writers have. Even though this is more nonfiction than what you and King do, I always worry about my writing and it not making sense. Think of all the times I’ve asked you to read over my work and you’ve had to dive into shit that makes next to no sense unless you know the topic. Psychopathy, empathy, heterosexuality and homosexuality in Japan, etc. I think that you and myself (I’m included in this) thinks too much of the finished product before actually working on the current blank page. We want it perfect. I think you should since I know you have good ideas, even if you broke King’s rule with sharing it with me. (Although I flatter myself as your Ideal Reader.)

It is appealing and I think he is colored by all the years he has of successful writing. It’s not easy to make it, yet it is easy since you see all those people who self-publish. And then get killed since people insult them since they don’t put out a polished work. They expect it to succeed and it doesn’t. And I love that King owns up to his distance from the current publishing world since he is such a household name. He acknowledges it and moves on with it, then goes on about his passion since this is his whole livelihood.

They shouldn’t, really. That’s a great way to put it. It’s one of those things I want and maybe need to happen in 2018. This should give everyone a good laugh at our expense. I have plenty of notebooks. They are just empty. Oh that’s great. I love it. I just love how he loves Harry Potter just like us. He’s one of us!

I would probably agree with that. I remember King saying he experienced a lot of rejection when he was young but he still got notes of encouragement. I think that helped him know that he had talent. I never did anything like that. This is true and you are a great writer too. We can hear that from each other constantly and still doubt ourselves. Which I think is normal. I definitely want it to be perfect right out of the gate, but that’s just not realistic. It starts with a first draft which is never perfect. I know he made that a rule but we don’t have to do everything his way. I just wanted to see if you, who would tell me if an idea was interesting or not, liked them. I was thinking of you when he mentioned Ideal Reader. Probably because you are one of the only people who can look at my writing objectively and give me feedback. Not because you are my friend or anything.

I think the hardest part ultimately for me would be trying to get my book published and selling myself. I’m so fucking bad at that shit, but even Stephen King doesn’t like it and he’s had to go through the same things to get published that every author has to do if they want to put their work out there. So maybe one day I’ll get there.

I have some good ideas, you see. Just some. Maybe you should use some of those notebooks, you hoarder. Fill them with a line per day and see where it goes and what you’d like to develop on. He totally is! I don’t blame him for it. He ought to be a Potterhead. A good story is a good story. Doesn’t matter the age range.

He did get those rejections and encouragements. I mean, I think it goes to show that no writer is brilliant the first try. It takes practice to hone your craft. Perhaps that’s why I’m hesitant to read anything written by teens, just because they haven’t had the same time to get great. Not that there’s no exception to that rule, just that I’ve found it’s rough to read early work. I’m always impressed by authors who nail it their first novel, such as King or Mark Lawrence. Aw, well I’m flattered to be your Ideal Reader. Does that make me the Tabby to your Stephen?

Well, the book will sell itself if it’s good. They’ll just put up with the author. No one likes it, putting their work out there, but you need to do it to get somewhere. At least, if you want to get published and perhaps well-known. Think about how posting a prompt is a way to get out, or posting a review on here or Goodreads. It’s scary at first, then you get used to it.

Hey, there is no need for name calling. Though I am totally a hoarder. I have two composition books I don’t think I’ve used. Just a line a day. I need to put that somewhere. I don’t either. J.K. Rowling had genius with Harry Potter. Not so much anything else. I want to re-read Harry Potter one day. Maybe skip Order of the Phoenix. I can’t get through that book.

This is true. Writing is a craft you have to hone by doing it over and over again. I mean, King writes every day. There’s a reason he’s successful because he works hard. And has talent. I do get what you mean about teens writing, but it’s a good time to start writing but maybe not publishing you know? Prince of Thorns is a great book and I agree that it’s hard to believe that was Lawrence’s first book. As you should be. I suppose it does. By the way, the way Stephen King talks about his wife is just great. He loves writing, his children, and his wife. Maybe not in that order, but definitely all three.

That’s a good point. I don’t even want to be a famous author necessarily. I just want my work to resonate with someone. I want to write the books I like to read, mainly books with queer characters. This is a lot less scary than fiction for me. I don’t really care if it’s perfect, but it’s a great way to get my thoughts out.

Says the one who’s called me a heathen at least twice in the chat thread accompanying this review that no one but us will see. You should just write it somewhere, or title your journal 2018’s Line a Day. It’s literally no pressure with that. JK totally had genius with Harry and I am a fan of her Cormoran Strike series, but that’s it. I always reread Harry. Like once a year. Do I need to get into why that book is amazing again?

He also has the luxury to spend that much time reading and writing whereas most beginning authors don’t, unless they start as early as he did. Teens writing is fine. I mean, I wrote when I was a teenager, but that shit shouldn’t see the light of day. Like, ever. And that’s what I like about King. He invests time in writing the idea out, then he reads that first draft after so much time has passed and decides if it’s worth any further time. If so, then he’ll edit. If not, then nothing more. I’ll never get over how good Lawrence is in that first book.

I guess now is a good time to talk about Stephen and his wife. It was just so sweet to hear his anecdotes about her from all those years of marriage. And how much shit she put up with.

Really, that’s what King wanted, too. He wanted some people to like it. By that point, he realized that not everyone was going to like his stuff, so moved on. Hone in on the people who will. And he found that he had a bigger audience. Not to mention that most people in Generation Z (the generation after millennials) are queer or not identifying as only straight. The audience is there and you just have to hone your craft to it, as King has done with horror.

What happened to keeping things private, yo?! No need to rat me out. That’s actually a good idea. I’ll do that. A line a day is totally manageable. No excuses for my lazy ass. Yeah, I haven’t read anything of hers other than HP so I’m just being an ass. I can’t read that many books in a year when there are so many others to read. I’m just not a fast reader. And no, but it’s the reason I can never finish the series.

He did have other jobs along the way, but you are right. His wife works and they don’t have any other children to support so that frees up a lot of time. I agree there. The things I wrote when I was a teenager sucked. Hell, some of the stuff I wrote in my twenties sucked. I do like the idea of putting the first draft away and letting it sit until you don’t recognize it anymore. I wonder how long it took Lawrence to write that. It was amazing.

I mean their marriage is #goals. She told him to get his shit together when he was using drugs and he did because he wasn’t going to lose his family over it. He’s incredibly grateful to her to allow him to work the way he does as well.

It is. He says so near the end of the book and I agree. If someone doesn’t like your book, who cares. I mean it’s easy to say, but it will hopefully reach someone. To me, I think that would be enough. I know that there are so many people who would love to read queer books that are new, I mean I want someone to read my book and it hits them. Not literally, but it impacts them in a good way like so many books have done for me. Yes, yes, everyone is gay now. It’s fantastic. I would rather live in a world where everyone is queer. This is very true and that’s what I plan on doing.

Uhm, drinking happened. No excuses and it’s literally one line. One sentence or less than. That’s all and you’ve written many sentences in this. I’m ignoring your JK comments and moving on.

He made it when his kids were young and he was a schoolteacher, so he really did do a lot on a full schedule. That impresses me, not to mention makes me feel as if I haven’t done enough with my life. I think that you should try it at some point. Give it a try. Even if it’s only a short story. And wow this review is a lot of me encouraging you to try King’s advice. I just realized that.

Not only that, but he respected and cared for her before that. He always honored her opinion and thought of her as his Ideal Reader. He wanted to draw her in, especially since it seems that they have very different styles. From what he listed that she had written, it sounded more like she wrote poetry and feminist geared things. And so writing for her, an audience that was not already into horror, is great. Like me and YA or queer fiction.

If you get to publishing a book, it reached someone. And you can’t reach everyone. Someone will find fault with something. I think that you will be able to find a niche that fits you best with your writing, especially given what I know you have floating around in your head. Even if it’s been done before, that doesn’t mean it can be done better. King proved that with his work, after all. He proved that horror wasn’t boring and all been done before.

December and 2017 Wrap-Up

With December and 2017 coming to a close, we thought it would be smart to have a general wrap-up for both at the same time. And, we have to say, what a year it has been. In January, we started reading a book per month together because Chantel asked about it. Then, in March, we started the blog because of Chantel since she wanted to see if it would work.

So, really, we are so thankful to all of you who like, comment, and follow us. Without you all, who knows how long we would have lasted as we bumble around and try new things. Perhaps we don’t comment or like other posts or be involved in the book blogging community as much as we’d like, but we still appreciate and love all of you.

Now that all that is to the side, let’s just get to the wrap-up!

This month, we read On Writing by Stephen King together. We were going to read The Power but ran out of time to fit it all in together.

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.


I’m going to start with my general December wrap-up. There were quite a few books that I read, so I’ll try to be smart and be like Chantel with putting them into star categories.

5 stars:

4 stars:

3 stars:

2 stars:

1 star:

This year, I read almost 180 books this year. It’s certainly a large number, but I mainly get by with audiobooks. That’s way more than I expected since my goal was to read 100 books. So, I read 61,000 pages according to My Year in BooksMy average rating for books was 3.4, so a flat average for me. I did have some good ones, some bad ones.

Scrolling through the list just reminds me how many good ones I had, some of which I reviewed on here. Most of which since we started in March and only missed those first few months of the year.

Even though 2017 was a shitshow, the reads were good!


I read three books this month. Which I’m honestly not upset about. The early part of December was a stressful time for me and I had little to no motivation to read despite reading three books. What I succeeded in doing by the end of the month was finishing all of the books I was reading so that I could start 2018 fresh and I can’t wait to read lots of new books in the year. 

4 Stars:

3 Stars:

2017 marked the first year that I’ve read on a regular basis in a long time. I wanted to read more this year and thus we started a book club. We also started a blog which has only increased the amount I read this year. I participated in my first readathon this year in which I read 5 graphic novels in two days. All in all, I read 42 books this year. I know Goodreads says I read 44 but I’m not counting the two books I DNFed. 24 of those books featured a queer main character, which is over half so I’m proud of that. I do plan on reading more LGBTQIA+ books in 2018 and I even created my own Bingo card. For more info about my reading check out My Year in Books on Goodreads.

Lastly, I’d like to give a quick Top 5 of my favorite books I read in 2017 (in descending order):

1. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

2. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

3. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

4. Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

5. The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

The two I DNF-ed? 

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Fortitude Smashed by Taylor Brooke

Bad Call by Stephen Wallfels

Books from #bookishfirst raffles!

A post shared by Caidyn and Chantel (@bwbookreviews) on

(Caidyn)

2/5 – DNF at 48%

When I won this book through BookishFirst, I was a little hesitant. The blurb for it didn’t do it for me and I remember thinking that I was interested, but not entirely sure if I’d like it. That feeling basically stayed with me.

In short, three college-aged guys decide to get some weed from somewhere and find a way to fake everyone out about it so they don’t get in trouble. After all, they’re tennis players. Big deal athletes. Then, a high school girl gets invited by one of the guys, yet isn’t told that his friends are all men. And she lies to her family, gets her best friend roped into this plot, and goes.

And that’s it.

Literally, I was halfway through the book and that was all that had happened.

Nothing interesting and the pacing was so bad. There was no tension, no mystery, no real intrigue. It was written well and that was the saving grace that would have kept me reading, but I picked it up to read it today and realized how much I was dreading it. And so I decided to DNF rather than read the rest of the book.

It was easy to get into and well-written, but not interesting and easy to space out through for me. While someone else might love this book, I didn’t.

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

The End of the Affair

(Caidyn)

3.5/5

My first review of 2018 (even though I finished it yesterday) and I hope this doesn’t set the tone. Basically, I took too long reading this book. And then read The Child in Time, which was a lot like this book yet completely different and far superior to this book in working with the presented themes.

While the former was about childhood, time, and grieving, this book was about religion and grieving. Both books had a very meditative tone to them. One of those books that could feel very pretentious and as if there’s something very *~genius~* happening that annoys the piss out of me.

And, for this, the themes just didn’t add up. I think there were too many storylines that Greene tried to tackle and it simply didn’t mesh together. There was the narrator’s journey, getting over the end of an affair with a woman he loved. The husband of that woman, finally discovering her unfaithfulness to him… yet not exactly in the way he pictured. The woman, trying to be authentic to herself. Then you get the minor characters having storylines. It was far too much and distracted from what I felt was the heart of the story: grieving and religion.

While it was beautifully written, it felt subpar when I had just finished a very meditative book. Plus, I had taken too long in reading this one that I couldn’t remember all the details I wish I had. Definitely a good book, just not the right timing for me in the end.